Sneak a peek at the new Mobile Library!

The Mobile Library is a custom RV that is the size of a band’s tour bus! It will bring library services to neighborhoods around Multnomah County. Along with space for storytimes and programs, the Mobile Library features bookshelves to browse, computer stations, wifi access, printers with scanning and faxing abilities, AC and heat. 

New multi-colored new mobile library

Communities that might not have close or easy access to a library location will be among the first to be visited. With the new Mobile Library, the library is hoping to reach people who have not previously been to a library; those with mobility issues; people without access to transportation, or even those who work during regular hours of operation and need a more flexible opening schedule. Beginning next year, the Mobile Library will also help support delivery of library services in communities impacted by library closures due to renovations and expansion. 

“This is a unique opportunity for the library to expand our reach into the community. Expanding our library services with the Mobile Library to communities that have barriers coming in is just another way we will be able to do this,” says David Lee, mobile and partner libraries manager.

The Mobile Library will park at community centers, churches and other locations. When it visits an elementary school, kid-friendly books, games and activities will be on board. For technology classes, it will be set up with additional computers and seating.

Several library staff members are training to drive the Mobile Library and offer classes for the community. 

“We will be exploring ways for providing vital library services and programs out in the community. This will be in partnership with library and county staff members and community partners,” says Steph Miller, mobile librarian.

Although the library has never had a Mobile Library with computer, printers, and wifi access in the past, the library has had a variety of bookmobiles for over 90 years. The first one in 1924 was referred to as the Rural Service Truck. This specialty Dodge truck circulated over 78,000 books every year, carrying up to 800 books and a desk at one time.

Young patrons crowd outside a library bus several decades ago

Iterations of the Rural Service Truck and bookmobile were continually in service until the early 2000s. 

With the new Mobile Library, the library will be able to “bring technology and services that haven’t been possible in the past, and do so in a mobile fashion,” says David. 

The design for the outside is based on the theme of connection. The community connecting with the library. People connecting to the internet. Readers connecting with great books. The Mobile Library will be where it all comes together — on wheels.

“Seeing a big colorful bus hopefully brings calm to those hesitant to engage with a public institution, as well as a smile. The colorful lines converging at the door and at the logo represent the library as a connecting place. Our libraries are vibrant spaces for connection, so I wanted the Mobile Library to visually express that,” says Multnomah County Library’s Art Director, Don Bradley. 

More information about the Mobile Library will be available on the library’s website soon.